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Bid to end ‘phoenix’ firms tax loophole

THOUSANDS of pounds of tax is going unpaid because of entrepreneurs who claim their Maidstone-based businesses are bankrupt, only for their assets to be transferred to a company with a different name.

The recipient is known as a phoenix company and although the practice is legal, Maidstone Coun- cil is lobbying for a change in the law after recently writing off £636,883 in unrecoverable business rates from 18 failed public limited companies, accumulated during seven years.

Downs Mail can reveal that Mark

Wilson (52) and his brother Robert (56), who live at separate addresses in Discovery Road, Bearsted, have continued to run Strawberry Moons despite being directors of a string of companies registered at the nightclub's address of 28-32 Gabriel’s Hill that wound up with debts of £2.89m.

This figure includes more than £630,000 owed to the taxman and £63,895 to Maidstone Council. The brothers were additionally directors of two Ashford-based companies – one previously trad- ing as Strawberry Moons Ltd – that went under with debts of £1.4m, in- cluding £327,000 to HMRC. In all, one or both of the Wilson brothers have served on the boards of 10 companies that have folded in the past seven years, owing £4.29m. One of their failed companies

was 1MK Ltd, which had the same address as the nightclub and went under in May last year, owing Maidstone Council £15,403. The council’s policy and resources com-

Luke’s degree of success

A STUDENT from Maidstone who was turned down for his 11-plus exam is hoping to inspire others after picking up a first-class honours degree.

As pupils across the borough

received their A-level results, Luke Coomber (21), from The Hedgerow, Grove Green, proved that academic success can be achieved without attending a grammar school. Luke (pictured) said: “You are

very young when the choice is made as to whether or not you are good enough to go to a grammar school. At that 3

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mittee recently agreed to write off this debt. However, since October 2014

they have been directors of Club Trading Ltd, for which the regis- tered address is 28-32 Gabriel’s Hill. The following month Straw- berry Moons issued a health and safety statement that confirmed the brothers remained directors of the nightclub. Robert Wilson said: “It is with

deep regret that these companies went into liquidation due to the re- cession. It is also unfortunate that Maidstone Borough Council has had to write off £15,000 in rates. “Everything has been

done in the correct and legal12 Villagers’ bid

to buy up land RESIDENTS in Bearsted and Thurnham are staging a race against time to save part of the for- mer KIG land from possible devel- opment. Two large plots of greenfield land totalling more than 43 hectares have been put up for sale at Bridge Farm, Water Lane.

The site has remained under threat even after the Kent Interna- tional Gateway road-rail freight in- terchange proposal was refused five years ago.

As Downs Mail went to press, more than £500,000 had been pledged by locals towards the pur- chase of the land.

More than 100 families have con- tributed £1,000 each, in addition to two lots of £50,000, five of £10,000, 10 of between £2,000 and £5,000, plus 30 smaller amounts. The two plots advertised for sale, with guide prices of £550,000- £600,000, and £300,000- £325,000, are at the western4 23 Pudding Lane • Maidstone • Kent

September 2015 No. 221 News Cost of living

ANNUAL service charges at a controversial housing scheme in Bearsted will be as high as £1,342

Students celebrate

SCHOOLS across the borough have reported strong exam results.18-19

Hospital boost

THE local NHS Trust says the treatment of strokes is improving.

Congestion hope

MANSTON Airfield will be used to ease the misery caused by Operation Stack. 28

Market in town

A NEW art market containing 80 stalls is coming to Maidstone.

Internet boost

FREE wifi is to be set up at Boxley’s Beechen Hall.30

Obituaries Comment

46-47 34-35

36 Crime Reports 47

A GARDEN statue was damaged in Bearsted, where also a horse was taken from a field and a re- cycling bin from outside a home.

Parish Councils 46-47

A NEIGHBOURHOOD plan refer- endum might take place in Broomfield and Kingswood early next year; Dog mess on the Old School playing field in Detling would be addressed; lit- ter and air quality had become problems during Operation Stack congestion in Harrietsham, where traveller activity was noted; rubbish had been dumped in the church car park and behind the sports pavilion in Leeds; the parish council clerk in Ulcombe had resigned.

29 20 5


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